UPDATE ON "TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS" December 3, 2002[hr] I have made this post a rather comprehensive update On "Total Information Awareness". If you have interest in this particular issue -- I hope it is useful. If you have no interest, I will tell you now, you will be bored and can click on by. I have tried to put a lot of the latest information here. [hr] The administration has admitted that "feelers" have already been put out to the big credit card processors that would have every transaction simultaneously be fed not only to the processors, but to "the" database as well. Unbelievable. Also, several Congressman have called for a halt to TIA until there can be a complete investigation about what this whole thing is all about. The answer from the Pentagon (who runs DARPA): no way. Senator Russ Feingold says: yes, way. [hr] Former Republican Congressman Bob Barr has a new job: with the ACLU. He says he is preparing a plan of attack against TIA and is planning on leading the effort for the ACLU against all aspects of the "big brother mentality" and "the greatest threat to our freedoms probably since 1776." Barr says he is not catching too much flack from his Republican friends for working with the ACLU. Barr said, "Honestly, in their hearts many of them know I'm right. They are just afraid to stand up to this administration." Barr praised the Democrats - and the few Republicans - who have joined together to "fight against tyranny." He specifically praised Senator Russ Feingold, Representative Dennis Kucinich (who has a Draft Kucinich 2004 movement going at www.draftkucinich.com ) and former Republican colleague Dick Armey (who said he is also considering serving as a consultant for the ACLU) for leading the charge against Internet snooping and "all the other Big Brother issues" that have come out of this administration. Here's a shocker about Barr, the ACLU, etc. The ultra-conservative Salt Lake City Tribune editorialized today about the ACLU that astounded many: http://www.sltrib.com/12032002/opinion/opinion.htm A spokesperson for the ACLU was quoted as saying, "ACLU has been a dirty four-letter word for many, who are now realizing when rights are being taken away that we are, to the core, a patriotic organization. We take the constitution seriously, and fight for what it stands for no matter whose feet we step on." [hr] An EXCELLENT read from the libertarian CATO INSTITUTE: http://www.cato.org/dailys/12-03-02.html [hr] To lighten things up (even though nothing about this is very funny) - an absolutely hilarious piece written by a columnist as a ficticious phone call to the TIA office: http://tinyclick.com/?43MR6G [hr] "We cannot ignore a plan that imperils our liberties" http://www.abqtrib.com/archives/opinions02/120202_opinions_hal.shtml [hr] 'Big Brother" may soon have a name. http://www.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/politics/ny-vpduo013025070dec01,0,539321.story?coll=ny-lipolitics-print [hr] THE FOLLOWING APPEARED TODAY IN "EDITOR AND PUBLISHER"... THE TRADE MAGAZINE OF THE NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY. From Editor & Publisher magazine December 3, 2002 Information Awareness Office Is Right Out Of '1984': Surveillance Efforts Threaten Freedom by Nate Hentoff The New York Times' John Markoff was the first reporter to break the news, on Feb. 13, that retired Adm. John Poindexter, national security adviser to President Reagan, "has returned to the Pentagon to direct a new agency that is developing technologies to give federal officials instant access to vast new surveillance and information-analysis systems." In the ensuing months, without public notice from the U.S. Defense Department or any congressional hearings, Poindexter has continued developing, as head of the Information Awareness Office, the resources to actualize Orwell's prophecy in 1984 that "they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to." On Nov. 9, Markoff followed up his original story in a Times piece that aroused parts of the rest of the press: "The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe -- including the United States." By mining commercial and government databases with increasingly formidable computers, the government -- as noted Nov. 14 on ABC's Nightline -- "is going to get a collection of information that would allow it to, essentially, reconstruct the movements of citizens." Ted Koppel added: "Since all of this information is gathered privately, is used privately, is assessed privately by officials in the government who are accountable to no one for this information, how do you know it's being used?" This vast store of personal information could include bank and credit-card account data, bridge-toll records, e-mail messages, Internal Revenue Service and medical records, pay-per-view movie titles, travel reservations, and more. Among the press reports and forebodings that followed Markoff's story last month, an editorial in The Washington Post pointed out that "instantly updatable ... computer dossiers on everyone really do cease to be science fiction. [And] if computers can learn to identify a person through a video camera, then constant surveillance of society becomes possible, too." From 1984: "How often, or in what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time." As news stories multiplied, readers were reminded that Poindexter, in charge of creating a nation of suspects, was convicted of lying to Congress and destroying documents in the Iran-Contra scandal's covert exchange of hostages for weapons, but was set free because he had been granted immunity for his testimony. In a Los Angeles Times column Nov. 17, Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, made the chilling point that "a man convicted of falsifying and destroying information ... will now be put in charge of gathering information on every citizen." Turley added that President Bush, "when asked about Poindexter's prior criminal conduct ... released a statement that he believed Adm. Poindexter has served our nation very well." The Washington press corps might ask the president to elaborate on Poindexter's qualifications for his current post. As reported Nov. 21 in Newsday by Tom Brune -- a first-rate reporter on shadowy national-security developments for the Melville, N.Y.-based paper -- Edward Aldridge, a Defense Department technology and logistics orchestrator, is trying to quell the rising alarms about the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness system. As this omnivorous system is being perfected, he assures us, no actual data on citizens is being used. And when the electronic dragnet is up and running, the Defense Department will turn the technology over to the intelligence agencies' now-converged data banks. They, he said, are "governed by laws to protect individual privacy." But, as Turley emphasized, "The government has proven to be the greatest threat to personal liberty and privacy," despite whatever protections are on the books. And, he added, the government "is the body that the entire Constitution is written to restrain." Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis., the only member of that body to vote against the USA Patriot Act, urges that "the administration ... should immediately suspend the Total Information Awareness program until Congress has conducted a thorough review." But who will check if hearings are held by Congress and how thoroughly the relevant committees explore the ramifications of the emblem in Poindexter's office? Described by Robert O'Harrow Jr. in The Washington Post of Nov. 12: "An eye looms over a pyramid and appears to scan the world. The motto reads: 'Scientia Est Potentia,' or 'Knowledge Is Power.'" Who else but the press can keep the citizenry informed of what real and continuing protections they will have from the all-seeing eye of the Total Information Awareness system? After all, we journalists are also in the ceaselessly interconnecting databases. And in the future envisioned by Orwell in 1984, "The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously." The viewer could be seen as well as heard. this constitutes a 'fair use' of copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml.